Sunday, April 28, 2013

Redefining Jinx

Oh no I can't talk about that because I don't want to jinx it.  Do you ever find yourself saying that?  I certainly have in the past.  I would think it was bad luck to share potential good news, that if I shared that the potential would not turn into a reality

I have recently taken a contrary approach.  I have some things brewing out on the horizon that as I go about my day to day I have been sharing with others more then I would have typically in the past (I am not going to share here in any detail because it is still very much a potential and this is very much a public space).  I share and more importantly I share that I am excited.  In the past it would be as if this excitement would 'jinx' the potential opportunity, that somehow by sharing this with other people I would be tempting fate and then the outcome would not be in my favor.

I do know that part of why I would not let myself get too excited and almost minimize the potential opportunity's importance has to do with self preservation.  So if I don't get asked out on that date, win the big award or get the dream job I get to say I did not really want it anyway.  But if I truly believe that what you put out into the universe comes back to you then why should I not show and share my excitement.  This makes the potential opportunity more of a reality and my approach to it more authentic.  Imagine the difference a job interview could be if you truly presented your authentic self to those who are interviewing you? I can certainly recall having to fake enthusiasm for jobs I have interviewed for before but if it is something that I am really excited for why not let that come through. Wouldn't you want to hire someone who was really excited about the job you were offering?  Could that person even be, experience aside, a more ideal candidate.

I once was told after I was hired for a job that one of the reasons I was chosen was because they wanted to get to know the person that my references spoke about and that when I interviewed they did not see all that they had heard about.  I did not bring my full authentic self to that process, I needed a job and had a lot on the line, so held back because I didn't want to be "too much of me", too enthusiastic.  I knew I could be overwhelming at times, though with age I have learned to reign that in a lot.  Apparently in that situation it would have certainly served me better to be true to myself.  Though I am eternally grateful to my references for being able to bring out what I suppressed, I learned a lot from this process which occurred almost 9 years ago.   Yet through the years I have still held back.  These days I am trying something different, life has been different and I am different. 

So maybe now instead of thinking that I will jinx 'it' by talking about 'it' maybe not talking about 'it' is the real jinx.  I'll let you know how that turns out!

"What you think is what you become" ~ Buddha

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Living My Values

Today in yoga class we were asked to think about if how we lived our lives was consistent with our values.  This is something that I think of often and is usually at the forefront of my mind. Today for some reason I was really struck by this question.

This week was a roller coaster of a week for me and many across this country and in particular on the other side of this great state that I live in.  With tragedy in both Boston and West, TX I have almost been ashamed to say that I have had a relatively great week.  Things are slowly starting to unfold for me professionally (nothing major yet, but I am starting to see a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel) and in the matter of 48 hours I have planned a trip out to CA (for next week) to do some work for a friend and reconnect with some other good friends.  I call it my work-cation!  So yes it has been a really good week and one that has also been filled with fear and sorrow, one that has shown me the support I knew was there in my community and one that has tested my ability to be flexible and think on my feet.

So when I think about my values and if I live my life consistent with them I get to think about the week that I just had, the week that in the face of tragedy and unknown in the world I was able to find some sense of balance and calm.  I made decisions based on what I value and made plans in a way that also honored these values.  I believe I have a pretty strong work ethic and stand behind commitments that I make and because of this I almost did not take the opportunity I was offered in CA, I did not want to shirk my responsibilities.  But, I was both supported and encouraged to pursue this opportunity.

When I think about living my values I think about why I left my job in September.  Amongst a number of reasons was that I was not able to be true to my values, I was not given the freedom to be true to myself.  I was unhappy and I was able to mask this most days but it took both a physical and emotional toll.   It is not always easy to live in sync with my values, there are days that certainly test that even now.   I value compassion and patience, both of these things get tested in my retail job on almost a daily basis, but I usually recognize this when it is happening and adjust my reaction accordingly.  Also, most days it is not always in my best financial interest (as I am trying to save as much as I can) to live completely in sync with my values.  For example I would like to leave as little an impact as possible on the earth,  but depending on the day or week affording local, organic vegetables may be out of the question and I will opt for what is cheaper than supporting what I believe in, but I try.

In order for me to live up to the fullest version of me and to be fully aligned with my values I must surround myself with people whose values are similar to mine.  Through a number of different circumstances this week I have found people to be kind and generous, compassionate and understanding, loving and humorous...all things that I value in my life.  I will continue to surround myself with people who share my values and I will continue to seek work that allows me to stand tall and be the person I have worked so hard to become.

What do you value? Do you surround yourself with people and circumstances that make it easy for you to live consistent with your values? If not what can you do to align yourself differently.

"Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace" ~ Dalai Lama

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ubuntu - the Essence of Being Human

I have spoken some about my connection with my community and how it is essential to my existence. This is fairly evident just by the title of this blog and it is more clear everyday that I need my community to survive and even more so to thrive.  I believe that for people to be successful they need other people supporting and lifting them up.  This is where my community has come into place.

South Africans believe in a concept called Ubuntu, that focuses on people's relationships and allegiances to one another.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu explains Ubuntu as follows:
"One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity."
In this video he explains it further to a group of students on the Spring 2007 Semester at Sea voyage:

Isn't that such a great concept, wouldn't the world be a better place, a more peaceful place if everyone connected with this philosophy.   What if we always approached any new person we meet with eyes open to this concept.   I believe that I possess Ubuntu and have chosen to surround myself with others who also possess this amazing quality.  I know that I can not exist in isolation, I know that I am interconnected to all human beings.  The quote says that when you do well, it spreads out.  I believe the contrary to be true as well; when we do harm that also spreads out.  To me that means that our actions can always affect those around us and like ripples in water affect beyond to all living things.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Comfort and Fear

I have started to become really comfortable with life right now.  Some would say that is good, isn't it? But I think I have become too comfortable.  Do not get me wrong, weekly I am applying for jobs in higher education that I am qualified for both near and far.  And there are actually a handful that I am interested in.  So I am moving towards that goal I have of gaining full time employment.  But I have figured out a way to make my current situation work for me, to find joy, contentment, and comfort at a time when I would not have imagined this to be possible.  My days are full, I am full.  So if I am too comfortable will I stop pushing myself to move out of this 'comfort zone' I am in now?

For me I know that certain truths exist right now:

I have said before that though this time was unanticipated I have been given a gift and I do believe I have been taking full advantage of this gift. 

Truth #1:
I have been practicing a lot of yoga and if I did not have this time I would not have that opportunity.  Life would be a lot different right now if I had not found yoga.  (See The Times They Are a Changing)

Truth #2:
I have had the ability to connect with friends and people in my community; unrushed and with intentionality.

Truth #3:
I have refound the value of contributing to my community.  I try to volunteer once a week at the Northampton Survival Center and by serving others I have in turn served myself.

This place of comfort also brings feeling of fear.  Fear of the future, fear of not finding that next job or worse finding that next job and either not being successful or losing this sense of comfort. When fear rears its ugly head, this next truth, the truth that throbs in my head, the truth that brings me back to reality, the truth that makes me question my current state of comfort. This very practical truth the one that pulls me out of my heart and back into my head.

Truth #4:
At some point (soon) I will not be able to sustain myself financially.  I know that for financial reasons I must find a full time job by the end of the summer. (And I would like for this to be in higher education or in a role where I am making a similar impact.) 

It is this last truth and the fear I feel that will force me out of my comfort zone but hopefully I will retain most of what I have gained from spending some time there. 

And I am still so very hopeful....
"You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world's problems at once but don't ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own."
~ Michelle Obama